Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Travel to Russia


"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderely again." Last night I  
dreamt I went to Oranienbaum again.  Thank you Daphne Du Maurier.


 Oranienbaum which means 'orange tree' in German is the estate of Alexander Menshikov, Peter the Great's companion in arms.  It was built in the early 18th century near St. Petersburg, Russia. From the early 1700's to 1760's when all the buildings were completed, it saw many architectural changes and additions.  There were four major architects over the 18th century: Fontana, Schadel, Rastrelli and Rinaldi, Italian and German.  But artisans were commissioned from all over Europe to work there and add to the art collections and work on the interior and exterior of the buildings.


I saw Oranienbaum in 1989 with my husband while on a cruise of the Baltic.  Oraniebaum had just recently been available for visitors as it was under repair and  still is, despite Vladimir Putin's billion dollar refurbishment of St. Petersburg for St. Petersburg's 300-year anniversary in 2003.


Although there are many beautiful places in the area, my favorite was the   Chinese Palace built from 1762-1768 as a little weekend dacha for Catherine the Great.  In one room  are resplendent silk wall panels depicting landscapes of birds and woods, panels inlaid with ivory, many beautiful examples of decorative arts are everywhere throughout the building. There were sculptures outside as well. The building is only one floor, but designed to look like two. Peter the Great wanted Russia to look more like Europe and he was the one who began the tremendous building project that became St. Petersburg.


But what intrigued me was the romantic atmosphere everywhere.  There were woods, a kind of overgrown rustic style landscaping, with long gravel paths that reminded me of French movies where lovers are meeting clandestinely and are running toward each other.  A perfect  setting for a movie, a novel set in any century or even a mystery with a main character called Natasha, of course.


One building, called a viewing pavilion, overlooked the Oranienbaum Coasting Hill, of which there exist only drawings today.  Coasting down sledding hills was a popular entertainment in the 18th century, sleds in the winter and special cars in the summer as the nobility watched from the Pavilion.  


Can you just imagine a mystery set in the 18th century, where the main character uncovers an accident/murder which takes place on the sledding hill?




My photos do not do it justice but you can see photographs on:  

http://www.saint-petersburg.com/lomonosov/chinese-palace.asp


And Oranienbaum has a Facebook page as well!


What is a magical place in your memory?



22 comments:

  1. Wow! I had never heard of that place but it looks beautiful!

    I once went on an expedition with school to Nicaragua. We stayed on the beach one night and waited until 2am to go and watch these sea turtles laying their eggs in the sand. It was magical because for those hours while we waited we were looking up at a sky full of stars! We could see constellations and many many shooting stars! It was really magical :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nicaragua, what a great setting for a story,turtles, stars and magic.

      Delete
  2. this is truly amazingly beautiful---i too think the romantic part of it would attract me

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am a romantic at heart, just like you.

      Delete
  3. Oh my gosh, that's beautiful!! I've never been there, but I've always wanted to go! I went to Japan when I was really little, but I don't really remember it. Great T word!!

    Nice to meet you!

    http://writeskatedream-jmckendry.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Japan is definitely on my bucket list. Check out my "J" day for an update--earthquake and aftermath. They are an amazing people. You will just have to go back.

      Delete
  4. Those pictures are amazing! I'm dying to visit Russia. I don't we'll be able to pay those tickets just yet, but I'll keep saving!

    Nice post.
    From Diary of a Writer in Progress

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You will go, it has changed so much, but not the old buildings, which to me are the best part. Thank you for your visit.

      Delete
  5. Replies
    1. Thanks, Karen, for stopping by. I will be visiting as well.

      Delete
  6. Wow, these places are spectacular! We went to Russia (Moscow & Saint Petersburg) a couple of years ago, but we mainly stayed in the cities. I'm over from A to Z of you want to pop on by. Catherine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I will visit your blog. Oranienbaum is only an hour away from St. Petersburg, and from the internet, has actual hours that it is open plus ideas on how to get there, bus, etc. So, you will just have to go again.

      Delete
  7. I love the description of your magical place. For me -the dunes in Morocco at dawn, on camels - with just hubby and the camel man.

    ReplyDelete
  8. What a terrific memory, almost unreal, but so romantic. How many people can say they actually went to Morocco?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Neat travel post. It's fun to go to a place that is almost mystical. My husband and I went to Australia and New Zealand - it was all fantastic, but the best part was seeing the penguins come ashore at night on Phillip's Island, south of Melbourne.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Aren't we lucky to be able to travel to such far-away places? Something our parents were not able to do or do so easily.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Gorgeous photos that look like they're out of a storybook! So glad that you had a lovely adventure! Julie

    ReplyDelete
  12. I think we had one of those sledding hills at our local exhibition park.

    Very nice photos, especially the top one. I've never been to Russia. A landlord I had from there used to tell us some interesting tales.

    New follower of your blog, thanks for dropping by mine.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I love beautiful architecture, and that first building certainly fits that category. Wow.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse, co-host of the 2012 #atozchallenge! Twitter: @AprilA2Z

    ReplyDelete
  14. The pictures of Russia are evocative. I think War and Peace, the book, captured my imagination the most. Blog on!

    Http://francene-wordstitcher.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Francene. I have not read War and Peace. I have the book in my library, the new translation. You have inspired me.

      Delete
  15. Beautiful pictures, especially the one with the woods in the background. I would love to go to Russia some day.

    ReplyDelete